WEST VILLAGE — When it comes to CSAs (also known as community supported agriculture) there can be too much of a good thing.
Customers who subscribe to a CSA directly invest in a farmer’s output, receiving a share of the farm’s produce each week. However, many are overwhelmed by the quantities of produce they receive.
Certain types of veggies also present a challenge: while there may never be such a thing as too many tomatoes, an overabundance of cabbage may leave even the most creative home chef scrounging for recipes.
DNAinfo New York spoke with two of the city’s top farm-to-table chefs to get some ideas for extending the shelf life of those crops that are filling up the baskets of CSA members right now.
These bulbs that have come off the vine before having a chance to ripen are equal in nutritional value to their red counterparts, but often taste more tart and have a slimier texture. While green tomatoes are most widely known for being fried — especially in the South — don’t let that keep you from using them in all the ways you would use a red tomato.
But Standridge says that green tomatoes make for a great addition to a gazpacho or summer salad and work as a substitute for tomatillos in salsa verde.
“They’re almost exactly the same vegetable and flavor profile,” he said. “Tomatillos are more related to gooseberries so they have kind of a strange flavor to them — kind of like rose hips.”
“That would last for weeks and weeks on end and you could serve that with many different things — cheese, fish, pork chops.”
This funky root veggie is more versatile than you might think. With the texture of an apple and a flavor similar to broccoli, it’s not a crop most of us are aware of, but it can be the little black dress of your produce wardrobe, so to speak.
“Kohlrabi’s interesting because most people just serve it raw or make a slaw out of it which is one way to deal with it, but like most root vegetables people forget that you can basically treat it like a potato,” said Standridge.
In the past, Standridge has pan-roasted them and served them like fingerling potatoes to accompany a fish or chicken dish.
“I’ve also seen them in the past used like a gratin,” he added. “The traditional potato gratin layered with cream and cheese — you could do that with turnips, you could do that with kohlrabi, any kind of root vegetable.”
Pacifico says kohlrabi is particularly good for pickling or fermentation — two classic methods of preserving produce.
“I’ve fermented kohlrabi and served it with a piece of fish and some rice or on tacos or mix it into a salad or serve it with some charcuterie,” she said. “It goes with anything. On a pickle plate, you could put all types of pickles on it.”
One of the classic methods of preserving green napa cabbage is to ferment it in order to make kimchi.
“Many times it takes a few tries to get it right when you’re fermenting something — in terms of the right temperature and how long to keep it and how to store it correctly without it going bad,” said Pacifico. “But once you get the knack for it, it’s pretty simple.”
However, fresh, raw cabbage should not be underestimated.
“The thing about cabbage is that I think it’s a great addition to any salad,” said Standridge. “I think people don’t usually do that. They just make coleslaw out of it. For the health benefits, it’s really best to eat cabbage raw. I think that’s the number one way to use it. And it has such a long shelf life that if you incorporate it in a lot of things, you’re going to go through it.
Cabbage can even work on the grill.
“If you’re grilling it, you just cut it into big chunks and season it with olive oil and salt and then just grill it until it’s tender or grill it until it’s got a nice char on it and then you can chop it up and mix it into a salad,” said Pacifico. “Roasting it whole — getting a little carmelization on it is so delicious, it just brings out all the nutty flavors that cabbage has.”
We all know and love the charms of this green squash but let’s face it — sometimes enough is enough. That’s when its time to go more sweet than savory.
“People always go to zucchini breads and cakes, stuff like that,” said Standridge. “One thing I like to do that’s a little bit different — baba ghanoush is usually made with eggplant but you can do that exactly the same with zucchini and it comes out really well. That uses a lot of zucchini and you don’t get a tremendous amount of the spread.”
Standridge added that one can get away with preparing the zucchini in this way even if it is at the end of its shelf life as a fresh vegetable.
Check out next Monday's In Season for a pickling and fermenting guide.